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12 Simple Ways To Make Friends In A Foreign Country

May 27, 2023Date Published
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Whether you are pursuing an education or a career opportunity, the idea of making friends might seem scary. You might worry about how to make new friends in a foreign country even before getting on the plane. Even after reaching to your destination country, you may feel a little bit worried thinking about making new friends. In all honesty, it’s quite simple. Read through our guide describing simple ways to make friends in a new country and you might just find your new best friend in no time.

12 Simple Ways To Make Friends In A Foreign Country

Leaving your hometown, family, and friends behind and moving to a foreign country is hard. It doesn’t take long for the homesickness to set in. When you're getting settled in a new country, you might think you won't even have the time to make friends. But truth be told, that is exactly what you need to feel right at home when you’re starting over. Let's explore the ways of making friends in a foreign country, no matter whether you've shifted for studying or for a better career. 

1. Finding A Job Or Co-Working Space

If you’re in a new hemisphere for your education, you might want to consider taking on a part-time job. Although the additional money and work experience don’t sound too bad, they aren’t the only perks of having a job.

Part-time jobs will allow you to cover costs while working alongside students like you. Over time, you get to know your colleagues and coworkers quite well while running the cash counter together. Talking about work eventually leads to other conversations more often than not.

Even formal job settings like internships and work placements give you the scope to make some friends. A few lunch breaks together either way and bingo! You may have just found a friend in your fellow cashier or colleague.

If you already have a job but it happens to be remote, you could look for a co-working space. This would allow you to share a space with other people working online jobs.

You may strike up a conversation during breaks and find a long list of interests in common. Sharing a working space might be your answer if you’re wondering how to make friends in a foreign city.

2. Social Media And Online Communities

Social media platforms and online communities are great ways to make friends in a new city. It might seem counterproductive but social media often suggests people in your area to befriend.

Making an online friend in the city you live in gives you the scope of taking things offline. It also allows you to get to know a person before finally meeting them. As long as they don’t do anything that sounds off alarm bells ringing “Stranger danger!”, you’ll be good to go.

Online communities and groups are also a fun and safe way to make friends in a new place. There might be hundreds of groups on Facebook or Discord for the people that live in your area or for the people from the university itself.

Lots of communities form from within campuses, which focus on everything from nature watching to campus memes. These create a sense of inclusivity for students, who feel like they're part of a bigger community, and can make it possible to get to know and meet people within these communities formed around similar interests. There is always a community where you’ll fit right in. It's up to you to figure out what the right platform is for you.

Here are some social media apps, websites, and online communities that you might take a look at:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Tagme
  • Meetup
  • Couchsurfing
  • Discord
  • Bumble BFF
  • Hey! VINA
  • Yubo
  • BarkHappy
  • Interpals
  • Active

3. Learning the Language

When you’re trying to adjust to a different place, taking on the task of learning a new language might seem like a lot. But knowing the language of the country helps you in more ways than one.

Not only does it help you navigate around a foreign country, but it also helps you strike up conversations with locals. When you’re making an effort to learn someone’s language, they often automatically gravitate towards you.

Joining a platform or class to learn the country’s language also opens many doors to building friendships. You get to meet new people with whom you share a goal. Practising with them during classes and grabbing a drink afterwards will surely help you make a friend or two. In the process, you might learn a bit more Spanish than uno, dos, tres.

4. Taking Classes and Picking Up Hobbies

This may seem trite and repetitive, but there's a reason this advice comes up so often. When you Google how to make friends in a foreign country, this might be something that comes up time and time again. This time, we are advising you to take up classes in things you might be interested in.

Whether you’re a dancer or a swimmer, signing up for lessons would mean signing up for friends. Sharing the same interests would mean you already have things to talk about.

Even if you have no hobbies, you could always explore and try out different classes. Worst case scenario: you don’t particularly find yoga relaxing. Even then, you could find a friend who shares the same inflexibility as you. Best case scenario: you’ve found a new best friend and a new hobby. Either way, we’re sure your friends from back home wouldn’t mind sharing you a little bit.

5. Say “Yes!”

A little bit more spontaneity can help you make friends a lot more easily and quickly. Do your classmates want to take you along to their karaoke night? Say yes, even if your singing can make ears bleed. Do your colleagues want to go bowling with you on Saturday night? If you have no other plans, say yes.

If these are things you would usually say no to without a second thought, take a minute to think about it. The more you say “Yes” to things (within reason, of course), the more opportunities you receive to make bonds. You never know how your openness to new ideas and things might reward you, especially in terms of friendships.

You might be hesitant and that’s alright. You might think that they might laugh at you when you’re singing off-key or landing gutter balls. But most times, they’ll be screaming the words to Welcome To New York with you on stage. They might even teach you how to land a strike or two. Who knows? Your new group of friends might make it a weekly thing at the end of the night.

6. Making Friends At Your Foreign University

When you’re in a foreign country pursuing education, your university is your go-to place to make new friends. The campus will be crawling with people from around the world who are facing the same struggles as you.

Yes, they might not know everything about you the way your childhood friends do. But believe us when we say that you may form friendships that last a lifetime or, at the very least, have people by your side through this monumental phase of your life.

Now, you might be asking yourself how to make friends from other countries. But really, what you should be doing is asking them questions instead. When you’re sitting next to a new face in class, ask them where they’re from. Ask them more about their culture.

Soon enough, you’ll have a new friend and a new country added to your travelling wishlist. Another thing we’d like to touch on is that asking any kind of question helps to start a conversation. Even asking for a pencil can help you make a friend with whom you can make small talk during classes.

Another pro-tip if you’re looking to make friends at university: join a club or society. Getting the chance to socialize is one of the many benefits of joining a society at university. You will find a sea of people who share the same interests or ideologies as you.

If joining a society or club is out of the question, consider attending university mixers or events. You will find more people than you would in a typical classroom and you’ll have more opportunities to make friends.

7. Living With Roommates

If you’re planning on living in the university dorms, consider applying for shared rooms. When your homesickness kicks in and you miss your sister barging into your room unannounced, privacy will seem overrated. This is also a great idea to remove homesickness abroad.  Sharing a space with someone essentially gives you a built-in friend. If you’re on your best behaviour and your roommate doesn’t have annoying habits, you might find a friend in them. Just make sure you’re rooming with the right people and you’ll be all set.

After your first year is done and dusted, you could always move out with a gaggle of friends you've already had time to know for a while. You will be able to share great experiences with them whether that's as simple as having a meal together or going for movies and concerts with each other.

8. Going To Local Hangout Spots

This is a trade secret if you’re stressed about how to make friends in a foreign city. Most cities have a few local hangout spots that are swarming with different kinds of people.

Teenagers might crowd the park on Saturdays to kick around a ball. Adults might rush to the local coffee shop for their daily dose of caffeine. Depending on what group you fit into, you could ask around and visit such spots. Surely, taking a few trips to the local amusement park might make you a friend or two.

P.S. Please keep the local coffee shop a secret. You do not want to wait in a line when you haven’t been caffeinated yet. Or maybe, you could bring your classmate-clash-friend and make it a secret hangout spot.

9. Get Out Of The House

Spending hours in your room if you don’t make friends in the first week is the wrong way to approach things. What you want to do instead is step outside the house to do things in places that intrigue you. In a foreign country, friends can be found in the most unexpected times. Taking your pup on a walk in the dog park can help you find new friends for both you and your best friend.

This is why you want to get outside of the house as much as possible. On top of spending time being active and having fun, you might bump into some known faces. Seeing people outside of an educational or professional setting might be the push you need to find your commonalities.

10. Joining Cultural Communities

Most countries have large groups of people coming in from different countries. Often, people from the same country or culture make up communities. Joining in on the festivities with people who come from the same place as you might make you a friend who reminds you of home. You would always have something or the other to talk about. In addition, celebrating Eid, Deepavali, or Christmas with people from your culture is a sure-shot way of making a friend.

You do not just have to attend events from your own community. You also have the option of exploring other people’s cultures and backgrounds. Your intrigue in their culture and attendance during cultural events will have more than one person approaching you.

11. Approaching People And Making An Effort

If you’re an extrovert, this might have lit up your face. If you’re an introvert, please don’t run away. We know that approaching people randomly makes everyone a little anxious. But it’s something you might want to get used to, especially abroad. This is something people don’t mention enough when you ask them how to make friends in a foreign country.

If you’re looking to make friends, you might have to take the first step and strike up a conversation with people. You can’t make friends if you expect people to come up to you all the time. This is one fatal mistake most people make after finding themselves in a new place.

You don’t have to go and start asking people about their day immediately. Start by smiling at people and saying “Hi” when you pass people in the hallway or break room. Small things like this show that you are making an effort. These help you make a lasting and good first impression.

12. Be You!

This might seem self-explanatory but it is something people tend to forget when they’re having a hard time making friends. It might seem easier to just go along with things in order to blend in. But if you’re thinking long-term, it isn’t worth it. You shouldn’t have to change your personality to find friends.

If you showcase your authentic personality, you will find your group of people sooner or later. No matter how long it takes, being you will bring you to the right people. Then, you will find friends who will become your ohana. Till then, don’t fret.

Things To Watch Out For:

It’s easy to not notice red flags when you want to build bonds and socialize. This may be all the more complicated when maneuvering the social circles of a different country. In your eagerness to connect with others, you may make “friends” instead of friends. The difference may be subtle between the two at first glance.

However, with time, red flags keep piling up and get harder to look past. Here are a few things to be mindful of when making friends in a foreign country:

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

It’s hard to be assertive about boundaries but it’s important to always set them. There are some people who respect them and there are some people who don’t. Make sure you weed out the ones that push your boundaries despite your persistent no’s. When you’re in a new country, there are some things that will come as a cultural shock to you.

Not only are the culture and customs of the country unlike your own, you meet a lot of people with different norms, values, and belief systems. Some things that are not in your wheelhouse might be completely normal for your acquaintances. If you're a Muslim moving overseas and you're suddenly surrounded by pork dishes, it's an adjustment to make.

You'll both need to find places that are friendly for your diet as well as people who are understanding and accommodating of your needs. Your friend’s idea of a fun Saturday night might be a trip to the bar and that’s completely okay. If you’re uncomfortable around alcohol, a good friend will make plans with you that don’t involve alcohol on Sundays.

A bad friend will repeatedly invite you to bar crawls despite knowing your boundaries. To avoid this issue, friendships should be founded on mutual understanding - a willingness on the part of both sides to learn and compromise.

Taking Advantage Of You

As an international student, you're going to be a fish out of water in a foreign country. And while plenty of people will love to have you around, others might try to take advantage of your unfamiliarity with the place and its people.

Say you want to treat your new friends to lunch in the city in your first month and ask for recommendations. Some friends will take you to an expensive sushi place even though they know that you don’t even like sushi. Others will ask you what you’d like to try and what your budget is. The second lot are the kind of friends you want to keep around your corner, especially in a new place.

Mutual Respect and Openness

While it’s good to be friends with someone who has the same mentality and viewpoints as you, it’s rare to find someone who mirrors you completely. There will always be at least one thing you disagree on, especially if you’ve been raised in different cultures.

In a foreign country, your acquaintances might not know what’s taboo in your culture from the get-go. You’ll have to be patient, have open discussions, and be willing to educate, as well as willing to learn. With the wrong people, you might have to stand up for your country, culture, and beliefs.

With the right people, it won’t always be a breeze. They might make mistakes but they’ll be open to learning and co-existing. In return, you want to be around people who will be patient with you while you learn to adapt to their culture and country.

Be open to allowing your worldview to expand depending on the new experiences you undergo in a foreign country. Build meaningful bonds with others who are willing to do the same. Some days, you won’t reach a common ground.

You might even be the complete opposite of someone. At the end of the day, regardless of differences, you can get along like peanut butter and jelly. All you need to do is add mutual respect and openness on both sides of the sandwich.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I make friends from other countries?

Be open to getting to know their country, culture, and language. Learning about their favourite holiday or how to say hello in their language will show that you care.

How do I make friends online?

You can join numerous social media apps, websites, and communities. There are some websites and apps made specifically to make building friendships easier.

How do I know which is the right app or website for me?

While most apps and websites are for people from all backgrounds, some have very specific audiences. Hey! VINA helps women find their girl gangs. Active hooks you up with your new gym buddy. BarkHappy helps you find new friends for you and your fur buddy. Pick the one that suits you the most.

Our Concluding Thoughts

We hope that we have eased your worries about how to make friends in a foreign country. When you’re in a new city, friends help you feel at home even if you’re miles away from home. But your best bet is to just be yourself and give yourself the opportunity to interact with people. Your charm, personality, hobbies, and interests will do the rest for you.